Commonalities of Religions

Most major religions have a doctrine

A set of principles and teachings

And stories based on myths

About gods, and spiritual events


These faith traditions focus on experiences

Describing what their followers ponder in sacred texts

About God, gods, angels, or other Divine beings

Believers are known for their places of worship

Whether in a Church, Temple, or Synagogue

Where activities are coordinated


Religious leaders provide instructions

About how believers should live holy lives

And ways for its members to practice their faith

Members follow rituals of spiritual significance

Often with prayer, fasting, and feasts

But religious holidays are for festivals

Where there are blessings of deities

And celebrating the lives of saints and gurus


“Divine Providence, let us embrace the underlying teachings of religion – of love and mindfulness.  Help us to respect all faith traditions, and realize there are different ways to encounter God.”


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Blessings of Vocations

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to take care of it.

—Gen. 2:15

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it.’  “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.”

—Gen. 3:17

Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

—1 Cor. 7:20

Vocation comes from the Latin word ‘vocare’ or ‘voice’ which means to follow ‘the voice of God’, or to do what we’re called to do.  Viktor E. Frankl (1905–1997), an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist wrote, “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment.   Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.”  It should therefore be for us to pursue this divine purpose in life.

A Divine Calling

Wendell Berry (b. 1934), a novelist and environmental activist said, “The old and honourable idea of ‘vocation’ is simply that we each are called, by God, or by our gifts, or by our preference, to a kind of good work for which we are particularly fitted.”  This call could take a variety of forms.  But what exactly does this mean?  A showman and businessman P.T. Barnum (1810-1891) wrote, “Unless a man enters upon the vocation intended for him by nature, and best suited for his particular genius, he cannot succeed.  I am glad to believe that the majority of persons do find their right vocation.”  We’re reminded in the Scripture people are blessed with a variety of talents.  Some of them are great while others small, but it’s for us to use our gift or gifts wisely.

A person could find a worthwhile vocation in the national service.  Henri Nouwen (1932–1996), a Dutch Catholic priest said, “Peacemaking is a full-time vocation that includes each member of God’s people.”  Rick Warren (b. 1954), an evangelical Christian pastor saw the benefit of military service.  He wrote, “Well, in the first place, military service, they don’t call it service for nothing.  You are actually serving your country.  And it is a worthy and valid vocation.”  So a divine calling could take many forms.

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Blessings of Prayer

Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others.  What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.

—2 Cor. 5:11

As God’s coworkers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.  For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”

—2 Cor. 6:1-2

For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.  Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

—Eph. 2:18-20

James E. Faust (1920–2007), a religious leader, lawyer, and politician said, “A great heart is the beginning of greatness.  It is an expression of humility.  It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.”  What’s the effect of such prayer? Iyanla Vanzant (b. 1953), an inspirational speaker and lawyer wrote, “In my deepest, darkest moments, what really got me through was prayer.  Sometimes my prayer was ‘Help me.’  Sometimes a prayer was ‘Thank you.’  What I have discovered was that intimate connection and communication with my creator will always get me through because I know my support, my help, is just a prayer away.”

True Prayer

Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892), an English Baptist preacher said, “True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise not a vocal performance.  It is far deeper than that – it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.”  What exactly constitutes prayer? Saint Teresa of Avila (1515–1582), a Roman Catholic and Spanish mystic said, “Prayer is an act of love; words are not needed.  Even if sickness distracts from thoughts, all that is needed is the will to love.”

A Protestant evangelist Paul Washer (b. 1961) wrote, “One of the greatest attacks of the enemy is to make you busy, to make you hurried, to make you noisy, to make you distracted, to fill the people of God and the Church of God with so much noise and activity that there is no room for prayer.  There is no room for being alone with God.  There is no room for silence.  There is no room for meditation.”  But how should people counter such distractions and gain insights about prayer?  They should note like Saint Teresa of Calcutta (1910–1997), an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun who said, “Joy is prayer; joy is strength: joy is love; joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”  This is the nature and power of prayer.

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Living like Christ

“You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”

—Mt. 5:14-16

… to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

—Eph. 4:12-13

But rejoice inasmuch you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

—1 Pet 4:13-14

How you live determines where your heart is.  To be like Christ people have to be open to the differences in humankind.  Denis Waitley (b. 1933), a motivational speaker said, “A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside.” Through a smile let others get to know you.  Invite them in your life like Christ did.

Always remember to show appreciation to others, and compliment them when they do the right thing.  Let people know that you care about their well-being.  To do so try walking in their footsteps, for this is the way you’ll be compassionate.  Alan Cohen (b. 1950), an inspiration writer wrote, “Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.”

People’s Actions

So let your actions be like rays of hope even on gloomy days.  Reach out to the broken-hearted, soothe those who are hurting, and always remember to share your love.  Edith Wharton (1862–1937), a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist said, “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

Not all of us are like a candle, but in all we do we can reflect the light of Christ.  This ought to be seen through our actions.  What we say and do is important.  Take time to be a blessing to all people – rich, and poor alike.  Tell them you care about them.  Go the extra mile, and let the grace of Christ work for you.  It’s through this way we share God’s nature on earth.  You could do so by remembering it isn’t only the big things that count, but the many small things people take for granted we are called to do in life.

Five Christian Crowns

“Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer.  I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days.  Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.”

—Rev. 2:10

They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head.  They put a staff in his right hand.  Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him.  “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said.

––Mt. 27:28-29

“Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.”

—Prov. 16:31

The crown originated as a cap, turban, or other forms, and is at times decorated.  Its placement on the head indicates one was set apart for a particular calling.  Such crowns were used for high priests (Ex. 29:6; 39:30; Lev. 8:9), or for kings (2 Sam. 1:10; 2 Kings 11:12; Ps. 89:39; 132:18).  A crown indicates the consecrated role of the wearer (Ps. 89:39), and his, or her elevated position in life (Ps. 89:19-20).  There are five known crowns.

Crown 1 – Crown of Righteousness

“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

—2 Tim. 4:8

Crown 2 – Crown of Self Control

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown which will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly, I do not fight like a boxer beating the air….I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

—1 Cor. 9:25-27

Crown 3 – Crown of Life

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

—Jas. 1:12

Crown 4 – Crown of Glory

“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve, not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.  And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”

—1 Pet. 5:2-4

Crown 5 – Crown of Rejoicing

“For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?  Indeed, you are our glory and joy.”

—1 Thess. 2:19-20

“Undoubtedly those who are wise will shine like brightness in our Lord’s sight.  For they are those who have led many to righteousness, and they would be like stars forever and ever.”

—Dan. 12:13

Treasures in Heaven

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

—Mt 6:19-21

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.”

—Mt 25:31-33

But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

—Phil 3:20-21

Johannes Kepler (1571–1630), a German mathematician and astronomer wrote, “The diversity of the phenomena of nature is so great, and the treasures hidden in heavens so rich, precisely in order of the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment.”  But how do people respond to such blessings?  Lao Tzu (c. 6th to 4th century BC–533 BCE), a Chinese philosopher and writer said, “I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion.  These are your greatest treasures.”  Those are Tzu wishes.

Treasures of Life

Bryant H. McGill (b. 1969), an author wrote, “There are amazingly wonderful people in all walks of life; some familiar to us and others not.  Stretch yourself and really get to know people.  People are in many ways one of our greatest treasures.”  How could Christian believers find such treasures?  Charlotte Bronte (1816–1855), an English novelist and poet said, “The human heart has hidden treasures, In secret kept, in silence sealed; The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures, Whose charms were broken if revealed.”  Bronte saw treasures as profound.

Buddha (563/480 BC–483/400 BC), the founder of Buddhism wrote, “Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from pure and peaceful mind.  To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and guidance of virtue.” These prerequisites call for personal responses.  Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902–1991), a Polish-born Jewish writer said, “For those who are willing to make an effort, great miracles and wonderful treasures are in store.”  Such treasures come to those who make the effort to succeed.

Brevity & Simplicity

The Psalmist remembers how short life is.  “Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away” (Ps. 144:3).  The Lord says that his spirit shall not always strive with us.  God gives riches and wealth, “hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God” (Eccl. 5:19).  A Pakistani novelist Moshin Hamid (b. 1971) said, “I take six or seven years to write really small books.  There is a kind of aesthetic of leanness, of brevity.”  Some might feel something is wrong with brevity and look for expanded versions of a publication.  They are right when it comes to writing, but with life it’s different.  The gift of some short lives is filled with glorious moments, while those of longer souls might not.  This has to do with the God-given talents with which people are blessed.

Amazing gifts come from above.  St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556), a Spanish knight and priest wrote, “Realize that illness and other temporal setbacks often come to us from the hand of God our Lord, and are sent to help us know ourselves better, to free ourselves of the love of created things, and to reflect on the brevity of this life and, thus, to prepare ourselves for the life which is without end.”  Despite suffering this is the preparation that leads to fulfillment.

It’s often better to come to the point than to beat around the bush.  Marcus Tullius Cicero (106–43 BCE), a Roman philosopher and political theorist said, “Brevity is a great charm of eloquence.”  Hosea Ballou (1771–1852), a Universalist clergyman and theological writer supported this concept, but wrote, “Brevity and conciseness are the parents of correction.”  That’s why minutes of meetings are focused on the essentials and summarized for easy comprehension.

Rules of Life

It’s clear that many people like simplicity in life.  Confucius (551– 497 BCE), a Chinese teacher and philosopher wrote, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”  Do you see life this way?  Are you willing to take it as it comes?  Do you ask questions about life?  Some people feel that living by the Golden Rule is sufficient, while others believe it’s better to live by their own ethical principles.

But why do we follow rules?  People dwell on the past and think about the future.  Buddha (563 or 480 – 483 or 400 BCE), an Indian sage and founder of Buddhism said, “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”  Buddha lived in the present.  But could people do the same?  Many prefer to reflect on past experiences while thinking about the future.  An Italian poet, novelist, and literary critic Cesare Pavese (1908–1950) wrote, “We do not remember days, we remember moments.”  Does this statement say something about what matters most?  People often recall the good and bad moments in their lives.  These recollections tend to shape them, but living in the present evades them.

Bridges of Hope

In life it’s necessary to build bridges of love vertically and horizontally.  A vertical bridge is to God, Our Heavenly Father.  A horizontal bridge is by loving our neighbors, friends, and strangers.  Jesus Christ who is love died on a cross at Calvary for us.  Let his love flow from above for it unites and sustains.  Its flames are indestructible as if sweeps across our nation transforming people of faith.  It’s inspiring to love and be loved.  Blessed are those who love their enemies, for they are a courageous and compassionate lot.  Elisabeth Elliot (b. 1926), a Christian author and speaker said, “To be a follower of the Crucified means, sooner or later, a personal encounter with the cross.  And the cross always entails loss.  The great symbol of Christianity means sacrifice and no one who calls himself a Christian can evade this stark fact.”  True love is the cross and a bridge to spiritual maturity because Christ showed where there’s loss there’s gain.

A bridge inspires hope.  It requires lifting people up and proclaiming the risen Christ.  As a fundamental belief Christians are strengthened by the Holy Spirit.  Hope like love is joy, and a shining light.  This means justice for those who are marginalized in society.  And believers find inspiration through the Word that speaks directly to their hearts.  Brad Henry (b. 1963), Governor of Oklahoma wrote, “A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.”  Learning that’s the foundation of progress builds bridges of hope.

Concerns for Others

The church is a missionary body.  Through their ministries a pastor builds a bridge to communities and the world.  This is accomplished by motivating his or her flock.  Parishioners become literally on fire for Christ as they serve their brothers and sisters.  And they teach the Word of truth to those hungering for justice.  Men and women who embrace these pastoral challenges are enthusiastic innovators.  Their charitable work extends to the slums in cities.  Robert C. Shannon (b. 1930), a preacher said, “Never pity missionaries; envy them.  They are where the real action is – where life and death, sin and grace, Heaven and Hell converge.”

St. Teresa (1910–1997), a Roman Catholic religious sister and missionary in India wrote, “Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.”  Christians should work with the poor and help change their ways.  They should also attend inter-religious meetings to promote these goals.

No longer must God appear, not to be part of the whole.  Having access to the sacraments has been a sticking point among some Christian denominations. Why should this be?  Christians are taught they are one in the body of Christ.  In some congregations the definition of marriage has changed, and led to breakaway denominations.  Christians are concerned about values, although some are more traditional than others.  Why should believers judge?  God knows of our hearts.  With controversies building a bridge to others isn’t easy, but is still necessary.

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Amazing Bread

God intends that our daily bread sustain us.  By being nurtured and filled we’ll find joy.  Being fed by the fruits of the earth is an amazing gift.  This comes with toil, but the soil has to be prepared in the right way to bear fruit.  It’s thrilling when such abundance is used for the common good.  This is an exceptional blessing.  Our bread is more than a meal, but every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.  An Indian spiritual master Sai Baba (1838–1918) said, “Life is a song – sing it.  Life is a game – play it.  Life is a challenge – meet it.  Life is a dream – realize it.  Life is a sacrifice – offer it.  Life is love – enjoy it.”  Such description fully describes the nature and scope of our daily bread.

A French sculptor and graphic artist Camille Claude (1864–1943) wrote, “I am in no mood to be deceived any longer by the crafty devil and false character whose greatest pleasure is to take advantage of everyone.”  Why don’t we become lights in the world?  Such a gift will fill our hearts with love.  By so doing we’ll be with faithful souls as we traverse the earth.  These people are living in peace, and love.  These are blessed saints not ensnared by the pleasures of the world.  They continue to grow in glory, but walk in the spirit.

Our Daily Walk

Being fed the right food we grow healthy.  In our daily walk there’s beauty in our hearts.  By witnessing, visiting the lonely, and those in convalescing homes we’re able to share our stories.  In these ministries we help the depressed by bringing love into their lives.  As disciples we aren’t concerned if some view our efforts as failures.  For we know, we’re doing God’s work by laboring in the fields for the welfare of others.  We’re watering the earth, planting seeds, and awaiting the harvest.  With these efforts inseparable bonds are formed and nurtured.  Being architects of change we’re able to form deep and lasting friendships.

By embracing people we face challenges as protectors of God’s creation.  Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948), a leader of India’s independence movement said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  I hold that the more helpless a creature the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of humankind.”  These are some observations that call for our support.

In giving the food of life we ought to climb every mountain to make life livable for all God’s children.  When we cater for the underprivileged we’ll be sustained with his protection.  We ought therefore resist temptation by worldly desires.  In our dreams we must continue trust God by living in the best possible way.  For all things we should give praise and thanks to Almighty God, for it’s through these gifts his infinite wisdom cares for us.  Let us glorify his wonderful works.  God, Allah, Brahma, or Dao has given us choices, so is the faith and trust this Primal Essence has in us.

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Sublime Peace

Seek peace, and illuminate your paths with happiness.  Essential though is for you to cultivate a clean mind and contrite heart.  This is when you’re blessed with gifts of God, Allah, Brahma, or Dao.  You have become a true light and are ideal for undertaking a divine mission. Barack Obama (b. 1961), the first African American President of the United States said, “If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you will make progress.”  Our walk of faith leads us to have an enlightened heart.

The joys of this world are fleeting.  True peace is a weapon that’s able to defeat evil.  In this world there’s degradation, and fear, but for believers their future is bright.  By living according to God’s promises they become faithful, and kind men, and women.  These believers might face hardships that are like pin pricks compared to the happiness that awaits them.

The world is buffeted by the winds of change.  If it isn’t war, murder, or crime, deviancy is found in the sensual excesses of life.  Some people hold their heads high, walk with their chests up, and are puffed up.  At best this is a way of displaying vanity.  Others face struggles with broken hearts, and continue to pretend that all is well.  Temptations of the flesh can’t build us up, and it often involves empty praise and double talk.  Worldly types live in the shackles of fickleness.  A poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) wrote, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”  Being true to oneself should be the aim of every individual of faith.

Spreading Joy

It’s beneficial to spread joy and hope in the sacred world.  To be true to ourselves we have to live in peace.  Being sustained by the Primal Essence it’s for us to minister to others.  As lights in the world we ought to walk confidently in the midst of wolves.   Our journey in life would be filled with celestial riches.  Robert H. Schuller (1926–2015), a Christian televangelist said, “God flourished my ministry and my career of creative thinking, communicating and writing back 50 years.”  It was Schuller’s belief that he was blessed in his mission.

To find comforting peace it’s best to review the teachings of the sacred texts of the world’s faith traditions.  Their teachings mirror the true lights of our earthly sojourn.  So it’s wise, to be steadfast in understanding of the Word.  For the monotheistic faiths believe on judgment day we’ll have to give an account of how we have lived.  Believers who embrace these spiritual beliefs would be comforted in their lives.   Ann Landers (1918–2002), a Chicago Sun-Times advice columnist wrote, “Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life and repeat to yourself; the most comforting words of all; this, too, shall pass.”  With this realization we know that a devout life will be victorious.